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Colorado Artfest at Castle Rock, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I've been on and off with this show for years. Two years ago it was good (relative to this show) and last year it was worse than ever, I was stuck in a corner in the back and NO ONE ever goes to the back corner! This year the show was moved to the east side of the outlet mall on the north side of town. Some visitors were reported to have said they went to the old site and didn't know that it had been moved, no signs to speak of...Some folks I talked to said that they hoped the show would go back to its old location. That may not happen, but we shall see.

The location at the outlet mall was at the top parking area which was at an angle, tough for some setups, with rough blacktop. There were three entries to the show which charged a nominal entry of $5. Artists at each end of the show swore that the end opposite them had more people than theirs, you know how that goes!

Just The Facts...

Show Hours and Dates: Artfest at Castle Rock, Castle Rock, CO. September 9 and 10 (about the second weekend in September) Staggered setup on Friday, Saturday 9-6 and Sunday 10-5. Art, crafts, music, kid stuff... This show can be found on the Zapplication call for entry website.

Logistics:

Load in for the show was Friday morning starting at 9 am. As I am less than 1/2 hour away I didn't have to spend money on a hotel room. Load in was on a staggered schedule. Got there just before my 12 o'clock setup time and got right in. As it was early there wasn't a lot of interference from other artists unloading so it all went well and I didn't have to move till I got the tent up and the van emptied. This new location leveled the playing field in some ways. The "old" location was split in two by a street and usually people tended to go to one side or the other and skip the other side. As the show was in a long row visitors could travel up and down the two main rows and see everyone.

Amenities:

Water,  snacks, breakfast sandwiches on Saturday, lunch on both days. This show has always relied on the artists to figure out on their own that food was available.  The occasional volunteer booth sitters came by.

Storage, Booth Space, Load-In/Out:

A plus for artists in this location was more than ample storage space behind your booth.  Some artists didn't like what they felt was a large alley behind booths. As stated above load-in was easy as I beat most of the crowd setting up earlier on Friday morning. Load-out was fairly chaotic but most people behaved and I got out, as usual, in just under 2 hours.

Demographics/Buying Trends:

There were a lot of artists visiting each other during the day. If you've been to that kind of show you know what I'm talking about. I found that the mid-age group were the buying type although occasionally, the millennials were buying as well, older folks, as is usually the case, were out for a stroll. For me there was no buying energy on Saturday and very little on Sunday which has more typically been the better of the two days. Pre-show info from the Chamber, which manages this show, likes to state how Castle Rock and Douglas County is a high median income area. That may be so but that has nothing to do with what they do with that money. In the case of this show, they don't spend it here.

Quality/Range of Art:

From my survey of booths content was variable. There of course were some of the best artists I know as-well-as store owners who bought booth space to advertise their businesses. And the ever present  Window replacement booth who most people try to avoid.

Food:

The location of this show did not make it convenient for artists to get food. You either brought your own, remembered that the show offered some lunch and snacks or went to the food court of the mall which was not all that convenient to get to. For visitors to the show I think there was an ice cream truck and maybe another food truck or two.

Reflections:

This was not a first time show for me. I know (sometimes) when it's time to bail on a show. Usually it's when your revenue one year goes to half, you think it's a fluke, and the next year it's half again. That was the case with this show so I guess it's time to bail! This show lacked enthusiasm, it seemed as if it were being held out of some obligation and not out of a real spirit of support for the arts or the artists. As is the case, when that happens it seems to be a swan song.

Okay, now for the star rating! I'd give this show out of 5 and that's because of the logistics and amenities. As far as the buying goes, I'd give it  1/4 ✩ and that's being generous. I did lose money doing this show even though it was close to home.

Views: 399

Comment by Cindy Welch on September 25, 2017 at 10:49am

Thanks for the review.  I have done shows that I have stopped doing ... not big enough, no advertising, etc.  I agree that sometimes it's  hard to know when to stop doing a show.  I have sat out of a local show for well over a year -- it's done 2x/yr, spring and fall.  I have heard artists and shoppers alike say they are tired of seeing the same artists with the same product they have been bringing for 20 years.  This is the show where I still feel a lot of negativity from how some things were handled related to weather, and it's where I lost my tent a couple years ago.  All the angst about losing my tent is on me, I get it.  But it's like waking up to a nightmare and trying to forget it.  The more I try to forget it, the more I remember it!  LOL

Comment by Mark Zirinsky on September 25, 2017 at 4:12pm

Likewise, I was thinking of attending this show, it is also local for me, but I came to the conclusion that it is a) too close to the Sausalito Show (where i was this year), and b) it just does not seem like a place where there would be 'buying energy' for artwork. So in the end I decided not to apply for this one. That said, it is unfortunate that you had a bad show there, but thank you for reporting on it.

Comment by Peggy Crago on September 25, 2017 at 7:03pm

I also lost money there even though I live a half hour away. Never been a good show for me, yet there's always great work there. How? Always very light attendance, low buying energy.

Comment by Richard L. Sherer on September 29, 2017 at 7:41am
Thanks for the review Brian. They turned me down back in the '90s and I never applied again. I will probably apply next year sharing a booth with the journeyman I trained as a "break in" for him. It will be after my main show season, so no big deal if it is a bummer. I just signed up for a one day show at a school in Castle Rock to get some holster/belt sales. We want to go to Africa again next year for our 50th and my 75th so every little bit helps with that. Booth fee is $30 so I should make something?????
Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on September 30, 2017 at 7:28am

We did Castle Rock once...2011? Some folks say to me that there's a large tech population there, and I say that that demographic never helps me. They might have expendable income, but it isn't for what I do. Never is. I avoid that demographic. I usually need scientists with advanced degrees. Counselors. Doctors. They have money and sophistication and sensitivity. I need older professionals, mid-50's to mid-60's. I even strongly appeal to retired, but it's harder to sell to these folks since many are down-sizing.

I enjoyed meeting you in Cheyenne and seeing your work, Brian. Hope Cheyenne was better for you than it was for me. Last year I thought it had potential, but this year the eclipse eclipsed that! I don't see the potential there for me despite the crowds and up-beat atmosphere, not to mention the hard work of the committee. C'est la vie.

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